Monday, July 20, 2009

Talking to GOD - Prayer Changes You

Prayer is simple because it's easy to do, but it's complex because over time, you change how you do it and it has a way of changing you too. I learned a couple of things about prayer. First, prayer is talking to SOMEONE, a real person, a real conversation, and second, it requires that you make choices.
So when I first began talking to GOD (around 1981) I also made a choice to follow GOD. And the first thing I knew GOD was saying was, "You've got to change your evil ways, baby....." (I've been known to speak and write in "lyric" - you know, to have a song for everything!)
So yes, a lot of things changed right off the bat. I went back to church, got rid of old habits, started reading a Bible, and mainly thought about GOD a lot.
Early on, I was comfortable with structured prayers like the ones I had learned growing up or from a prayer book. That's what I knew best, but now, I thought about the meaning of the words, and I began to experience joy. Different than happy. Same thing happened when I sang in church. The words meant something and I felt joy. I had had glimpses of this when I was a youth, but....didn't persue it.
Over time, I desired to talk to GOD more like I would to any other person. It was awkward because I didn't really know what to say, but it felt right. Like anything else, practice makes perfect, so it got easier.
Then I started praying out loud with other people - (like after a Bible study when you're all in a circle and holding hands with your eyes closed and you really just want to open them up and watch everyone else pray). SCARY! But again, it felt right. This was all part of the "prayer changing you thing." I had a desire to do things I had not done before or I did them with a different attitude.
I think the next step for me was actually praying for someone directly. Not, "Sure I'll pray for you", or, "I've been praying for you", but "OK, let's pray about that right now." REALLY SCARY. The first time I did that was when I was talking to a lady whose child was in Kindergarten with one of mine, and she shared something really sad. I had not met her in person, but I wanted to pray for her.
I was compelled to do things. It was an irresistable urge, sometimes scary or very scary, but I did it. I chose to do it.
Yup, prayer changes you.

Luke 11:1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray.."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Talking to GOD - In the Beginning

I learned to pray from my mom. I remember that she would come into my room when I was little and we'd kneel by the bed and recite prayers. I have no idea when that stopped, but that's when I learned.
My parents made sure that I grew up in church. I was baptized as an infant, went to mass weekly, received First Holy Communion and made my Confirmation as a child. I attended Catholic school until I was graduated. I liked GOD and at times I felt HIS presence. I learned to pray because I had good examples. I know my mom prays for me and all of her family. Everyday. I am one of the lucky ones. Blessed is better. I am blessed.
I didn't always appreciate my upbringing though, and for a while, I was too busy for GOD. (Thank GOD He was never too busy for me.)
Then came a time when I heard GOD speaking. No, not in my ears or I think I would have died! He spoke to my heart. I had been wandering for quite a while, and because life gets tough, I was listening.
That's when it changed for me.That's when I went from reciting prayers to talking to GOD. And I'm not saying that structured prayer is bad. I am saying that I spent many years regurgitating what I had learned without moving to the next step. Thinking. Meditating. Feeling. Enjoying. It went from my head to my heart.
Most of us wait until we're at least halfway deep before we go to GOD. Some of us will wait until we're at the bottom and have exhausted all other resources and then call on GOD. But it doesn't have to be that way.
Don't you just hate it when you're talking about something heartfelt, or cool, or interesting, or you're just using the some of the words you need to use that day, and the person you're talking to is nodding their head but their eyes and/or their mind are somewhere else? GOD has to put up with that everyday. HE'S talking. We're just not listening.
So I would say, a life of prayer begins when we start listening for GOD.
Psalm 46:10"Be still, and know that I am God
Luke 11:28 "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it."

Friday, July 3, 2009

I Want a Dog !

Everyone in my family has at least one dog. Bobby and I had not had a dog for about 3 years and I wanted my own dog - a "cute" little house dog. So I told my son James, and he said, "How about a Maltese? They don't come in ugly." So I looked them up and fell in love. Then, my little sister Cris and I came up with the name TiffanyLu (she loves Tiffany & Co.) I was so excited. My brother Artie helped me find some puppies online and I was ready. So I told Bobby about the Maltese and her name and where I could get one and he says, "No."
"WHAT???????????????? BUT I WANT ONE!"
"No. It'll be like having a baby. We'll be tied down to the house. What about going out of town? Our kids are gone. Why do we need a puppy? Blah blah blah blah blah........"
I was so disappointed. I began thinking about how I could manipulate him. TiffanyLu was waiting for me to be her new mommy! Well, GOD, quickly put an end to my evil scheme and convicted me, so I just dropped it. There were plenty of oppportunities to say something or to bite my tongue. I did what I was supposed to do. After all, I am an adult.
Fast forward 3 months to my birthday. My birthday card says, "The answer is YES. Ask me the question." So I asked, "CAN WE TAKE A CRUISE? (I'm thinking big)."
Bobby says, "That's not the question. Look on the inside of the envelope"
And it says, "Can I have a "cute" little dog?"
So, yes, it is like having a baby. I used to get up around 1 or 2 a.m. to potty her. Get up at 6 a.m. to potty and feed her. Play with her to wear her out so she'll nap. Hurry home from church, the gym, the grocery store, dinner, or whatever I'm doing to feed and potty her. PLUS, because she's a Maltese, she's high maintenance. I had to buy stuff from the doggy boutique that I never thought I'd spend money on!
Anyway, she's "so cute." We all love her because she's a good dog. She gets lots of attention in public and at home and she's worth the trouble. Someday, she'll even be potty trained, er, housebroken.
And I'm so glad I kept my mouth shut and let GOD work it all out. He's just good that way.

Psalm 37:4 Trust in the LORD and do good;................Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.